Online Travel: The Race Is On!

Booking trips on the Web will only get easier, thanks to the ambitions of two business titans

Executives at Cendant, the travel and real estate giant, were sick of handing over part of their profits to online travel bookers. So they tried last spring to persuade the operators of the largest hotel in Cendant's Ramada franchise, the 1,015-room New Yorker in Manhattan, to avoid business from online agents like Expedia, Hotels.com Travelocity and Orbitz, which take a cut for every room they fill. "We had to tell them no," recalls Tom McCaffrey, director of marketing at the New Yorker. "These sites fill 200 rooms a night for us, more than Ramada's website and toll-free phone line...